December 2015 Newsletter
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Our culture has become so bad at waiting. We are result-driven because results feed the economy. And so, Christmas decorations appear in stores long before Thanksgiving, even before Halloween, and Christmas carols are played and sung even before Thanksgiving is over. Even in our holidays and sacred traditions we are urged to speed along ever and ever faster, and yet our souls cry out for silence and stillness.
We are caught in the trap of wanting everything 'now' yet feeling that we never really have the opportunity to experience anything fully. In so many arenas of our lives we are hardly aware of finishing one thing before moving on to the next. And because we are hardly aware, we miss Advent, we miss—"he comes, comes, ever comes."
What would it be like if we were to change our attitude for a year and experiment with a tradition of waiting and preparation? It might be that we would find the party at the end much more glorious. We might also find that waiting for God's coming helped make it possible for us to wait more gracefully for other things in our lives—the order we placed on-line, the traffic that threatens to make us late for an appointment, standing in line at the grocery store behind someone with a full cart, the encounter with a friend that has been delayed. In other words, we might find that practicing waiting in Advent might help us be more patient the rest of the year.
But, even more surprising, we might find that the practice of waiting helped us become more aware, more attentive to the presence of God that is always coming into our lives, that—"He comes, comes, ever comes."
Perhaps you might think that Advent seems outmoded, even ancient and irrelevant for the 21st century. Yet, what is not outmoded, ancient, or irrelevant is that God comes, comes, ever comes. When we take the time to wait, we become aware of that presence. Stress, tension, conflict, inner disparities find a centering point in that presence, and life becomes fuller and deeper.
Christmas is a sparkling and brilliant feast. The lights and brilliance are like the secrets that were held within those presents that I insisted on opening before Christmas one year when I was small. My inability to wait spoiled the wonder and surprise of those secrets wrapped in shiny paper and beautiful ribbon. But when I chose to embrace the practice of waiting, my eyes were dazzled on Christmas morning. So these days, I'm hurrying up to wait.
But the advent season is all about waiting. During advent, we’re reminded of all those centuries when God’s people awaited the fulfillment of God’s promises, the years of uncertainty, the time of doubt. This side of Christmas, it’s easy to think that this season is all about arrival, the birth of Jesus. And that’s partly true. The story does find its fitting climax in the coming of the Messiah. But let’s not forget the waiting that preceded Christ’s advent, the waiting that marked the time before Christmas, the waiting that God forced his people to endure.
Maybe a little waiting is a good thing. In her wisdom the church gives us the season of Advent, a season of “sitting with” the Christ-story and figuring out our place in it. Before we accept the great gift of the Incarnation, we ponder: What are the gifts we have been given to receive the story and propel it forward? What are the particulars of my God-given experiences? How has God claimed me as God’s special child? What is my continuing story?
Why all the waiting? I can’t answer that question for sure. At the very least, though, the waiting reminds us that this is God’s story, not ours. This is God’s plan, not ours and these are God’s promises. Although we do not like to admit it, God is in control, and God will take this story wherever God pleases. And it reminds us that we’re not the center of the story. It’s not about us, and things don’t always (often!) go the way we’d like. Finally, all the waiting helps us think differently about both the present and the future: valuing the present as a gift, cherishing the future as our ultimate hope.
Will that change the way you feel as you burn through twenty-five minutes waiting in line to get into a parking lot or standing in a checkout line during this Christmas season? I don’t know. It might, or it might not. But maybe it will give you the chance to view that time differently.
I spent time at Gethsemane in Kentucky where Thomas Merton, Trappist monk and author, spent many years of his life. He remarked that life is a perpetual Advent. He sensed that in that waiting, trust began to grow. Trust in God, trust in the Holy One who is beyond all that is created and is the source of all things, seen and unseen.
May you enjoy the anticipation and waiting of Advent as you prepare for a Merry Christmas!
Yours in Christ,
Advent Bible Study
Bible Study continues Mondays at noon, (bring a lunch) and Tuesdays at 5:30. This Advent we will have an Advent Journey through the Gospels- “Awaiting the Already” by Magrey R. deVega. Please come join us!
December 9Advent Pot Luck Supper
We will have our Advent Family Dinner on Wednesday, December 9 at 6:00 pm. Bring a dish to share and your own table service. Join us for good food, warm fellowship and Christmas carols.
December 13Christmas Cantata
The annual Christmas Cantata with the Mayfield Community Choir andmusicians will be performed in our church sanctuary at 4:00 pm on Sunday, December 13th. It is called “Emanuel, God with Us”. Spread the word as this is a wonderful event that the entire community is invited to enjoy.
December 16Blue Christmas Service
A service of healing and wholeness will be held on Wednesday, December 16th at 7:00 pm. This is a quiet contemplative service for anyone who finds the Christmas season to be difficult due to circumstances of their lives. Come for the peaceful service and remember Jesus’ birth as the greatest gift that God has given to each of us. Please pass this information on to anyone who might welcome this service.
December 19Sunday School Pizza Party and Practice
The Sunday School Christmas Program Practice will include a pizza party will start at 6:00 pm and last until 8:00 pm. Please try to attend if you are going to be in the performance.
December 24Christmas Eve Jail Service
Pastor Bonnie and four others will be doing at least three Christmas Eve services with communion for men and women who are in the jail. See Bonnie if you are interested in helping with this service.
December 24 Christmas Eve Service
We will have our traditional Christmas Eve service at 7:00 pm on Thursday, December 24.
December 28Session Meeting
The Session will meet at 7:00 pm of Monday, December 28. Please see Rev. Bonnie or Janis Frisch if you have anything to come before the Session.
January 24Annual Meeting
The Annual Meeting will take place on January 24th after church. Committee heads and chairmen of events please get reports to Janis Frisch before January 4th. Her email address is in Session Notes
The Annual Meeting will be held January 24th. Committee heads and Chairmen of events should send or give reports to Janis Frisch by January 4th. It would be easier for her if you emailed them to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Broadalbin Presbyterian Church took up a collection at their musical production this fall and split it among the local food pantries. We received $500. We will be giving out approximately 60 baskets at Christmas.
The next meeting of the Session is December 28th at 7:00 pm.
PLEDGES & OFFERING ENVELOPES
Pledges help us estimate the income that the church will receive next year. Please turn in your completed form as soon as possible.
Offering envelopes for 2016 will be available for pick up in Fellowship Hall later in December. Envelopes will be given to those who used them last year and any who requested them with their pledge slips. If any other members and friends would like to have offering envelopes, please contact Ann Mallin at 773-8198 or at email@example.com.
This committee continues to work closely with Pastor Bonnie planning for upcoming storyteller events as well as several of the Advent happenings. We are getting the church ready for the Christmas season and are planning for weekly “prayer strips” to be added to the Christmas tree. A sign-up sheet for Poinsettias - to be given as memorials or in honor of loved ones – is available at church.
Our next biblical storyteller, Rev. Dennis Dewey, will be here on December 13th to share Advent stories from the Gospels. During coffee hour that day, sheets of talking points will be placed on the tables for discussion during lunch. Lunch will be provided, courtesy of the Calvin Grant, from the Northampton Diner. We are asking members to sign up to bring a dessert that day.
Nancy Frank, chairperson
CHURCH SCHOOL NOTES
Children are practicing for the Christmas Program “Waiting for Jesus” during Sunday School so it is important that they attend regularly. Some ofthe children will also be performing instrumental pieces. This year's program will be held on Sunday, December 20, during the worship service at 10:30 a.m. There will be a practice and pizza party at 6:00 on Saturday, December 19th. Children should be at church at 9:30 to practice and put on costumes on the 20th. There will be no Sunday School classes on Sunday, December 27th.
Emanuel, God With Us is a service of Lessons and Carols. The origin goes back to 1889 when a service of carols and related scriptures was presented at a Christmas eve service. This contemporary service to be sung with orchestra at our church uses talents of current composers such as Amy Grant, Michael Smith and Mark Lowry. “Breath of Heaven” and “Mary, Did you Know” are two of the numbers to be presented. The chorus and orchestra are comprised of area singers and musicians, old and young who are eager to participate in this kind of program. The conductors are Mayfield music educators, Luke Horst and Noel Wing. A huge thank you to both of them. As a prelude to the singing of the cantata, Alex and his band will entertain us with Christmas music, religious and secular. And Ed Goodemote will play a postlude on the organ.
You may notice a rather large addition to the sanctuary. Allen Organ Company has loaned us the use of their latest model, a 3-manuel (keyboard) organ, to be used during the Christmas season. We are trying to maximize the use of that loan by, perhaps, having an organ concert in the early part of January. If you have any thoughts or ideas on how to do that, please let me know ASAP.
Josh Thompson will bring two symphonic bands to the church for a concert on 19 December at 3:30 pm. His bands, too, are comprised of old and young musicians, living near and far away. The theme for this program will be the music of John Williams, the prolific composer for many movies. Josh loves the sound that our sanctuary provides. In other words, the acoustics are superb. The tickets can be purchased at the door for $10 or presale at the Mohawk Harvest Coop for $7.
I hope that music is a large part of your Christmas preparation. So much music, classical and contemporary, has been written in observance of that season. Merry Christmas! Mary Lou
Equal Exchange's mission is to build long-term trade partnerships that are economically just and environmentally sound, to help relationships between farmers and consumers for more equitable fair trade. Fair Trade is not a charity or handout; it is simply a process of giving a fair exchange. Equal Exchange provides high-quality foods at a fair price to you. By cutting out the middlemen, Equal Exchange pays the farmers more and gives you a better value. Katie Frisch has taken on this project as a service project for the Church. She is selling a wide variety of chocolate, coffee, and organic olive oil. She will be set up in Fellowship Hall Sundays after church.
2015 HAM DINNER UPDATE
We would like to give many thanks to those of you who helped to make the November 7th Harvest Ham Dinner, once again, a true success. Our church sold approximately 190 dinners to hungry community members and made a profit of $2129!! This could not have been possible without all of you who volunteered to cut the cabbage/onions, peel the potatoes, cook the squash, bake the desserts, wait the tables, serve the meals, work the kitchen, sell the tickets, and buy all the leftovers the next day. A special thank you is given to the Mayfield Stewarts store who donated all the milk, cream, and butter and to the Kucel family for donating the hams. So mark your calendars, because we will do it all over again next year on November 5, 2016!!!!!
SANTA HOTLINE & MITTEN TREE
We are again taking part in the Santa Hotline project for children in the Mayfield School District who are in need of Christmas gifts. Tags with the description of a gift and a number have been distributed. When you have purchased the gift please wrap it with a ribbon that the tag should be attached to and bring it back no later than December 6th. The knitters have been knitting away all year and have dozens of hats and mittens ready for Christmas distribution. Please give them to Libby Van Nostrand before December 6th.
CHRISTMAS JOY OFFERING
The Christmas Joy Offering will be collected again this year on December 13 during the church service. This offering is one of four special offerings designated by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to provide congregations direct ways of supporting specific causes that help those in need. The receipts from the offering are distributed equally to the Board of Pensions for assistance programs and to the National Ministries Division of the General Assembly Council to support eight Presbyterian racial ethnic schools and colleges. Envelopes will be available during December.
I'm sure everyone is aware of the Thanksgiving baskets that were distributed to all the folks who use our food pantry. Thank you to all who have helped assemble them, to those who contributed, to the Boy Scouts who made pretty table decorations. We also thank Hannaford for their contributions of food for the baskets...thanks to manager, Carl Tambasco. He even helped us load our cars when we came to get the boxes and the food.
Thanks also go to all who help with the food pick ups from the Regional Food Bank. We are looking for anyone willing and able to help with that which comes up once or twice a month on Fridays between 12 and 2 PM, the pick up is at the Farmers Market in Gloversville. It does not take a lot of time, one or two hours at the most. It's helpful to have either a SUV or truck. This last pick up we filled a van, SUV and part of a pick up truck.
For Christmas we will be doing approximately 60 food baskets. Food needs will be posted in Fellowship Hall.
The regular 1st and 3rd Tuesday food pantry is now over 40 people, close to 50 showing up for food. Thank you to all who are helping run food pantry. The amount of food we are now getting from Regional Food Bank is wonderful. It is difficult to find room for all the food but we are managing just fine and are really helping our community. Ginny Mei and Crystal Hinkle
The Mayfield Group served 60 very appreciative people at Friday’s Table on Oct. 23, 2016. We are scheduled to serve again on Friday January 22, 2016. We have a great time and all are welcome! We gather at Holy Spirit Community Center, 161 South Main Street, Gloversville at 3:30pm or whenever you can get there! We usually
prepare roast pork, carrots and roasted potatoes! The bread, salad fixings and deserts are all donated by Price Chopper and Hannaford.
If you can join us please arrive at 3:30pm or whenever you can, we serve at 5:30pm and we
are all cleaned up by about 6:30pm, amazing! Please let Mary DiSanto-Rose at firstname.lastname@example.org or
224-2080 know if you can come. Thanks, Mary
ITEMS FOR GUATEMALA
We are preparing for our largest mission trip to date. 32 people are traveling to Guatemala on February 13 to work again in the village of Pachaj. We can use your help in many ways! If you are able we want to bring with us: vitamins both children and adult, acetaminophen, aspirin, antibiotic ointment, bandaids and first aid supplies, school supplies, pens, pencils, rulers, glue sticks, stickers, books (Spanish), and this year our goal is to bring 50 cardigan sweaters, (no design but can be all colors) for the women of Pachaj as a special gift during our one day retreat that we are doing. Preferablly new or very gently used ones in sizes - small, medium and large, but just a few XL. If you would rather make a donation, that would be great also. I usually try to bring CEDEPCA several printer cartridges and toner cartridges for their copier and printers. They just keep re-inking them until they literally fall apart. We are also bringing hats and mittens and gloves for the people of Pachaj, they live in the mountains and it can get cold there. It would be a help if you waited until after Christmas to bring the items to church so we have a place to store them.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!
HAPPY BIRTHDAYto these members who have birthdays in December:
Haleigh Dutcher December 6, 1995
Greg Hitchcock December 7
Vince Hughes December 18
Marian Elliott December 23
David Fox December 23
Carol Cownie December 25
Suzanne Fox Decemner 27
Chris Dahl December 28
Pat Ford December 30
Lauren Kaczor December 30
Darci Wemple December 30
DID YOU KNOW?
… that special bulletins are available as memorials or in honor of someone for the upcoming Advent/Christmas season. Please see the sign-up sheet in Fellowship Hall if you are interested.
…that Rev. Bonnie has started a Women’s Bible Study at the Fulton County Correctional Facility on Monday evenings from 6:00-7:00 pm. If you are interested in doing it with her or for her when she is not able please talk to her.
…that 36 shoeboxes were packed and sent to Operation Christmas Child by the Sunday School children. Thank you to all who contributed to the effort with boxes, gifts and money!
…that Olivia Orth is applying for aYAV (Young Adult Volunteer) position for next year. This is a Presbyterian mission endeavor which sends the young adults nationally and internationally for one year to help in the mission field. Olivia hopes to be teaching overseas.
Biblical Storyteller, Dennis Dewey, is scheduled for Sunday, December 13th. We are very fortunate to have the opportunity to hear Rev. Dewey. Mark this on your calendar and plan to be in church that day. Share this with your family and friends as it is a service not to miss!
A short bio: Dennis Dewey is internationally acclaimed as a master biblical storyteller. He is an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church, and has performed and taught at hundreds of venues all over the world. He has been featured at the National Storytelling Festival, Princeton Theological Seminary’s Institute of Theology, the Joseph Campbell Festival, Oxford University and on national television. He has also served as Executive Director of the Network of Biblical Storytellers.
After fourteen years full time at this ecumenical, itinerant storytelling ministry, Dennis Dewey returned to parish ministry in 2007 as Pastor of Stone Presbyterian Church in Clinton, NY, where he helped form a congregation-based troupe of biblical storytellers who tell the lectionary texts by heart each week in worship.
Dennis Dewey’s mission is to help people hear the biblical stories “again for the first time.”